Monday, October 17, 2011

Gearing up for the Fall

I just found out this morning that I'll be vending again at The Big Crafty on December 4th! This is one of my favorite craft fairs, both for vending and shopping, because of the variety of handmade stuff, the friendly faces, the party atmosphere, and of course it's all right here in my neighborhood. I never take it for granted that I'll be in because of their jury process, so it's always exciting to put it on my calendar.

But before December comes along, we still have November to contend with, and this will be one my biggest Novembers yet! As some of you already know, I moved into a new studio space this past summer, but I haven't yet invited anyone to stop by, or opened it to the public, because most days I'm either still fixing it up or just too gosh darn busy to have people wandering around in here. I'm now working on the invitations for the big Grand Opening and Open Studio, scheduled during the River Arts District Studio Stroll on November 12th. Check back here for details, or sign up to be on my mailing list to get a personal invitation (including a raffle ticket to win a free Heavens to Betsy print!).

Monday, October 03, 2011

L.A. Printers Fair

Well it took a bit of coaxing from Rachelle Chuang, the tireless volunteer extraordinaire at the International Printing Museum, but I packed up and headed out to the L.A. Printers Fair last week. I met my friend Kseniya Thomas there, where we set up a Ladies of Letterpress table right next to my Heroes & Criminals Press table. The trip was mostly for work, but we made sure to fit in a little bit of sight-seeing, shopping, and sampling the local cuisine in some swanky (and some not-so-swanky) restaurants.

The fair itself was overwhelming, not just for me but also for the 1200+ visitors walking around like deer in headlights. And I mean overwhelming in the best of ways: such an amazing gathering of talented people, printed goods, presses, type, and anything else you can think of that's letterpress-related. As it turns out, the museum in itself would've been worth the trip, and the fair was just icing (gobs of icing). If you haven't been yet, I highly recommend that you put this event on your calendar for next year. Here are some highlights:

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Ripple effect

On the heels of an amazing Ladies of Letterpress Conference, my life quite expectedly moved into it's usual mode, Fast Forward. I'm teaching again on the beautiful campus of Warren Wilson College, starting with an introductory class on paper making followed by a class on book arts. I'm also back to setting up my new-ish studio. I can't quite call it new anymore, since I moved in a full 3 months ago, but needless to say I haven't put my full effort into settling in. There are just a few more things to move in (i.e., the flat file that still sits in the middle of my living room floor), but I promise it'll be all dressed up and ready for its Grand Opening / Studio Open House in November. (more on that later)

But back to right now, I'm giddy with seeing my artwork on display at! I was contacted by them over the summer about creating a work of art to commemorate 9/11, as we are now approaching the 10th anniversary of this tragic event. They asked that I respond to the event with the theme "Ripple" in mind. I decided to make a drawing with an image that I used recently in another drawing, the banjo boy playing next to gravestones, and to show a flutter of papers coming down towards him from the east.

As my statement on the site says, "One of the images that really stuck with me from September 11 was the fluttering of papers that flew out from the twin towers. I imagined very personal histories on each of those sheets of paper, from financial statements to family wills, day planners or even a saved birthday card. As the country learned more about the people lost in this tragic event, I sensed the wind carrying these personal stories, and the grief, across the nation. I think we all felt the papery debris fluttering down on us, no matter how far we were from ground zero."

I hope that this image will bring back the bittersweetness of the event; a tragedy that broke us down but brought us back together again, stronger and more resilient than ever.

Digital prints of this drawing are now available in my shop, and $3 of every purchase will be donated to the National Military Family Association.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Little Phoenix Press and LoLPCON!

As usual, I have one or two too many projects in the works, and this summer is zipping along as I keep up with all of them. One is a new series of letterpress printed cards and blank books with a Chinese inspiration. Instead of printing them as part of Heroes and Criminals Press, I decided that it needed a new imprint, and so I created Little Phoenix Press. The name comes from my own Chinese name, which is the same as my grandmother's. Even though it's another name, it is all essentially me in my studio, printing away. This is the first card printed in that series - Xie Xie (Thank you) - of little kids on a rocket ship from a propaganda poster. The design includes another run of silver on the rocket ship, but I'm having some trouble with my rollers (need to order new ones), so they will have do as they are. I didn't print a lot of them, and the plan is to make a larger run this fall with the silver, once my new rollers come in.

Also in the works, and has been in the works for about a year now, is the Ladies of Letterpress Conference! I'm not sure what came over me a year ago when Kseniya, my business partner, and I decided that, why yes, we can organize a conference, nevermind our complete lack of experience. Now a year later, considered us schooled. Well ok, I admit that I'm still no expert at organizing large events, but I've definitely learned a lot, and next weekend will be the ultimate test. We're expecting about 150 people and we have two venues: the Renaissance Asheville Hotel and Asheville BookWorks. The conference includes panel discussions, demonstrations, presentation, and a trade and printers' fair, all revolving around letterpress printing. This is exactly the kind of conference I would want to attend, and I have a feeling that it'll be a fun weekend all around. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New work at Blue Spiral 1

I am so thrilled to be in an upcoming show at Blue Spiral 1 Gallery, Storyline. This show includes 6 other regional artists who all work in a narrative style, and also intertwine text with images. I'm impressed by their work, and feel incredibly honored to be in such good company. The show will be up July 1 through September 30, with an opening reception this Thursday, June 30 from 5-8pm.

Some of my new drawings that will be shown there include No More Snow, inspired by Iron and Wine's song 'Radio War,'

and Carrot Flowers, inspired by Neutral Milk Hotel's 'King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 1.'

Sunday, June 19, 2011

New Press, New Studio

It was like Christmas yesterday, when I arrived at my new studio with my brand new Chandler & Price Old Style 10x15. She's only brand new to me; this press was made in 1885.

I first visited and purchased this press back in April from an awesome and talented printer, Loy McWhirter, outside of Burnsville NC, but there really isn't any room for this beast in our apartment, so I went on a studio search in Asheville for the perfect home for the her, and Heroes & Criminals Press. I finally found it in the River Arts District, at Riverview Station. It's one of the studios that they call 'rustic', and they mean it; no air conditioning or heat, open ceilings (lots of small studios in on big space, but we each have 4 walls and a door), and a shared bathroom and sink down the hall. Some benefits to the rustic space include an affordable price, nice high ceilings, two arched windows, and I happen to *like* the rustic look. Every now and then a bird or two flies in through the hallway window and I get to work to little cheep-cheeps and fluttering wings.

With Loy and Bruce's immeasurable expert help (and Scott too), we moved the beautiful press from Loy's studio to mine yesterday. In order to get her through my studio door, we had to first take the flywheel off (well, Bruce did). We moved the press carefully on three rolling iron pipes onto the trailer, closed and tied down the platen, and secured her to the trailer. We put the flywheel in the back of the pick-up and secured it with bungee cords. Then we drove to Asheville where we unloaded at Riverview Station, rolled her on the same three pipes through hallways, up a freight elevator, through more hallways (uphill this time!), then through the door to my studio. She found her perfect home in the corner by the window, showing off her beautiful curvy flywheel to anyone passing by the door.

There are a few more things that still need to be moved in - the typecase, flat file, more shelves, and possible the Showcard Press if there's any room left. Bit by bit, it's all coming together and I plan on getting lots of work done here this summer. I'm also getting it all set up, cleaned up, and dressed up for the Grand Opening that I'd like to have during the next River Arts District Studio Stroll the weekend of November 12th and 13th! Stop by and say hello!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Inspired by Taiwan

Just got back from a two week trip to Taiwan, and refusing to let jet-lag get the best of me. On this trip, Scott got to meet the rest of my family and to see where I grew up - literally, we stopped in front of the apartment where we lived when I was about 6. (top floor, on the left)
(my mom, me, Scott, Po-po (my grandmother), Su-gong (my grandfather's brother),
Sen-po (Su-gong's wife), and their friend whose name I've forgotten;
not pictured are my uncle and aunt, my cousins, and their kids)

I've been inspired by so much we saw there - many things that I remember from when I was a kid, but seeing them in a whole new light now.

(at the aboriginal settlement in Wulai)

(Longshan Temple)

(Shilin Night Market) 

(view from the top floor of the Sogo department store)

I also had a chance to visit Ri Xing Type Foundry, sadly Taiwan's last remaining type foundry.

Of course, no trip is complete without stopping by the bookstore, where I found a book of ancient Chinese myths and short fictions, full of fascinating and curious tales about war heroes, philosophers, ghosts, and gods. With these stories and images from the trip swimming in my head, I'm so motivated to translate some of it into my artwork! 

These photos, and many more, were mostly taken by Scott. Here's the full photo-documentation of our trip:

Friday, April 22, 2011

A New Kind of Book Project

After a few years of hand printing and binding my own limited edition books, I am now embarking on an entirely new kind of book project - I've just signed on with Lark Crafts and Sterling Publishing to write a how-to book on letterpress printing! The book will have fun printing projects and step-by-step demonstrations on the techniques used to create each one. Projects will include greeting cards, personal stationary, posters, zines/pamphlets, calendars, invitations, playing cards, paper dolls, and even t-shirts!

Also in the book will be spotlights on printers (and their presses) who have inspired me over the years, information about community print shops where presses and classes are available to those just starting out, and a comprehensive guide of resources, both in print and online. Essentially, I'm writing that book that I wish I had when starting out as a printer, and one that I'll be able to use as I continue to teach printing classes and workshops. I hope that it will be informative, but also fun and challenging to printers at many levels.

The working title so far is Letterpress Now, but that might change down the road. I'll keep you updated on progress, and look for it in Fall of 2012!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

How many?

How many blogs can one girl have? Well, in my case, two. And to tell you the truth, I'm not even sure why. I'm particularly attached to this Blogger blog, where you are now, because it was my very first foray into the world of the internets. It existed before Heroes and Criminals Press, Ladies of Letterpress, and even before my current gmail account! So I guess we have long-term relationship, and we're sticking it out for now.

But I also have a fancy-schmancy website, which came included with a blog of its own, cleverly called "News". But really folks - it's just another blog, right? Anyways, my point is that I updated that blog this morning about a recent trip I took to San Francisco to represent Ladies of Letterpress, and I just don't feel like repeating myself here. So for now, go to that blog to read all about it, and I'll let you know if we end up saying goodbye to one of these blogs down the road...

Chocolate type, yum!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Last minute Valentine's

If you're in the Asheville area and need to pick up some last minute Valentine's Day gifts, you should stop by Black Mountain Chocolate tomorrow morning for their Chocolate Maker's Valentine's Market. Not only will you be able to pick up the freshest and most delicious chocolate this side of the Mississippi, you 'll also be able to get Heroes & Criminals Press Valentine's cards!

Printed on handmade paper made exclusively for Black Mt. Chocolate, it's embedded with cocoa bean husks from their very own kitchen (the image is of cocoa pods as they grow on the trees). Also for sale are H&CP blank journals made with the same cocoa paper. Look for our display at their shop!

Chocolate Maker's Valentine's Market, Saturday Feb. 12, 9am - 12pm.